Safety Tips to Keep Your Holiday Merry and BRIGHT

Ready to “sleigh” your holiday light display and be the envy of the neighborhood?

There’s no shortage of reasons why the Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year. Among our favorites are the impressive, beautiful outdoor light displays and decorations that only get more elaborate every year.

But in addition to holiday cheer, all those bulbs, wires and the extra electricity can increase your chances of a home fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are almost 1,000 home structure fires started by holiday decorations each year.

Frayed wires, damaged cords or overloaded circuits can easily spark an electrical fire that can quickly lead to thousands of dollars in damages, if not total home loss or potentially life-threatening injuries.

Fortunately, there are quick and easy steps every homeowner can take to ensure a safe and festive holiday season display:

  • If you live in an older home, or it’s simply been years since you had a licensed electrician inspect your home’s electrical system, our Grounded Solutions 15-point home inspection is available year-round for just $79!
  • Still using strands of lights with incandescent bulbs? It’s long past time to make the switch to LEDs! A much safer alternative, LED lights produce far less heat than incandescent and are made with epoxy bulbs instead of breakable glass. As long as you keep your cords in good shape, LED holiday lights can last up to 20 times longer than incandescent — all while shining brighter for extra holiday spirit!
  • Ensure all your lights and extension cords are approved for outdoor use. Keep an eye out for products featuring safety compliance labels marked “UL” (Underwriter’s Laboratories), “ETL” (Interlink), or “CSA” (Canadian Standards Association). The stamp of approval by one of these organizations means your products have been tested and deemed compliant with North American safety standards.
  • The power for holiday displays should come from an outdoor ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. These types of outlets will automatically shut down any circuit if it becomes overloaded. Having a GFCI outlet installed outdoors ensures you don’t need to worry about overloading an indoor circuit already powering appliances or other decorations.
  • Before you begin hanging strands of lights, give them a good inspection to check for any cracked sockets, loose connections or frayed wires. If a strand is damaged, throw them out! Loose connections or cracked sockets can cause further deterioration and expose live wires. If frayed, those wires can easily transmit heat and electrical current causing a fire or electrocution.
  • Keep extension cords away from high-traffic areas or any place they could pose a fire or shock hazard. Even with outdoor-rated extension cords, you’ll want to ensure connection points are kept above snow or away from any water. Don’t connect multiple extension cords together; instead, find the right-length for your needs or have a licensed Grounded Solutions electrician install a new outdoor outlet just where you need it.
  • When hanging your lights, avoid any methods that could leave wires pinched and stay away from trees that could come into contact with power lines. Always remember to unplug your lights before bed or use a timer so they aren’t wasting electricity and costing you money 24/7.

And most importantly, remember that if you run into any issues during your holiday decorating fun, let the highly trained and licensed electricians at Grounded Solutions aid in a safe, merry and festive ho-ho-home this season!

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